Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flushing on the Left and Other Curiosities of Living Abroad

I have never spent too much time considering flush toilets unless I have been in desperate need of one. That being said, I am a big fan of flush toilets and indoor plumbing in general, having been introduced at a very young age to the realities of an outhouse. Daddy had to do some quick talking to convince me that he wasn't kidding when he told me that little building truly was the bathroom I had to use.

Anyway, there is a curious thing about said flush toilets here in Scotland. The handle is on the left side, as opposed to the right side in the States. You wouldn't think this would be a big deal, but trust me when I say that the first few days of this was a bit disorienting. Who knew that such a simple action as flushing the toilet was so ingrained in our muscle memory? If you don't believe me, take a few moments the next time you are in a bathroom and note where that handle is!

Another curiosity to me is the lack of window screens anywhere I have looked. They are, of course, ubiquitous in the States, particularly in the South, where flying bugs can carry off your first-born if they so desire. Not so in Scotland.

I didn't think too much about it until I went to make application for the flat I will be moving into this week. It is on the ground floor (perfect for my dachshunds Asher and Joseph) but has no screens (not so perfect for my cat Timothy, since it fronts a busy street). I remembered to ask the letting agent if there were screens for the windows. I got an utterly blank look in response and the words, "There are window coverings." I had to clarify that I meant wire mesh screens to keep the cat in.

"The windows are elevated," said he, trying to be helpful.

"He is a cat," said I.

"Oh," he responded. "There are no screens."

It is not a complete loss, however. I have located screen kits online that I will have time to purchase and install with magnets before my boys arrive. And I -- I will have the only screens on the block, as far as I can tell. Won't I be special?


  1. Hooray for Julia! After all the frustration to locate a suitable "flat", it sounds like you finally hit paydirt! We chuckled over the cultural diffs concerning window screens, but wonder if the place has A/C or heat? Radiators, perhaps? Say it isn't so! It's great news that your new life with St Anne's is going so well. Attagirl! Gary & Linda

  2. Just another thought....I checked the flush handles on each of the four toilets in this house, and they are ALL on the left side! Wonder if you perchance accidently reversed your comments on the blog? Now the mystery continues, "does Scotland have this evil plot of putting handles on the wrong (right) side, or are we now internationally congruent with left-sided handles"? Your old gang awaits resolution of this question-- hope your service yesterday was a good one! Cheers from Kennesaw, Gary

  3. Hi, Julia! Today is 3 Sep, and we've tried to send a note or two your way---however, the windstream email address is now being rejected, so perhaps you have a new "Scottish" email connection? Please let us know the best way to send a howdy your direction. Just think, you've now completed a full month in Edinburgh! Hooray! Gary & Linda